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Gypsy Vanners cob horses

Importing a Horse

This has to be the most frequently asked question today and one of the more important one as the importation cost are usually dearer than the cost of your horse. While anyone can phone up IRT and get a quote there are a lot of hidden costs that a first time importer will be completely unaware of. Having imported over 12 horses myself I have a keen insight into the true cost of importing. These figures are in the currency of the country that they occur but it is easy enough for anyone to do the currency exchange. The UK pound rates to NZ only are current as of mid 2013, but the US ones and rates into Australia are based on 2010 costs and will have risen since this writing.

Basic IRT charges for the following routes that are provided: € = pounds

1) Chicago to Auckland - $US15,350
2) Chicago to Sydney - $US20,600
3) LA to Sydney - $US18,850
4) Chicago to Sydney via Auckland - $US18,850 (no pregnant mares allowed this route)
5) UK to Sydney - € 12,000
6) UK to Auckland - € 12,175

Basic charge includes the following:

1) three weeks quarantine in overseas facility
2) two weeks quarantine in either New Zealand or Australia quarantine facility
3) airline flight with stall and groom

What it does not include:

I only have figures in pounds (€), but it gives you a rough estimate for the US. Also road transportation in the US is expensive as the quarantine facility is in Kentucky thereby, the horse has to travel once to the quarantine facility and then onto the airport in Chicago. If you are importing into Auckland and the horse is based on the west coast of the US, there will be a considerable transport charge as you are travelling right across the country and then up north to Chicago. It is not as bad for Australia as there is a quarantine facility in LA and a service that runs direct form LA to Sydney. Unfortunately that service does not exist for New Zealand.

Mandatory charges not included in basic charge:

1) all testing of CEM, Dourine, Piroplasmosis and EVA -add another €400 per horse
2)three days pre export isolation - €75 per horse (sometimes they bring them in days earlier at your cost)
3) road transport from overseas quarantine facility to airport - €120 per horse (approx. $US500)
4) airline fuel surcharge - €370 per horse
5) 2 shots of Equine Influenza vaccines 6 weeks apart - €90
5) clipping of horse (in winter only) - €80 per horse

TOTAL for the above mandatory charges - €1051 per horse not including clipping

Not mandatory but likely charges:

1) road transport from sellers yard to quarantine facility - up to €600 depending on location (up to $US1200)
2) any medical treatment while in quarantine - the sky's the limit here. Two of my horses showed signs of a slightly elevated temperatures. Both were administered antibiotics, one for a day and a half and the other for 4 days. I received a $1000 bill for this service.
3) livery at the sellers yard if they charge - €35+ per day per horse
Now add on the likely charges above.

GST of 15% will then be added on the cost of your horse. If you are GST registered then you can claim this back, if not then add this cost into your total.

If you decide to fly over and check out the horse yourself, which is good idea if you are concerned about your purchase, add your travelling cost onto your bill as well.

So now that you see the true cost of importing a single horse, you decide to import a 2 in 1 package, ie a mare in foal to save on costs. While this may be true it is not always an option if you are on a limited budget. Sellers generally charge more for a pregnant mare and be aware that you may incur extra charges due to the mare's bulging belly, as she may very well need a bigger stall. There are basically two options if you choose to proceed down this path.

Option #1

You may import a mare that is already in foal, however if the mare was not tested free of CEM (Contagious Equine Metritis) before she mated, which is most likely, then the following strict rules apply for both New Zealand and Australia:

1. The mare may not travel after her seventh month of term, but must begin quarantine at least one month before hand to allow for:
1) three days pre export isolation
2) three weeks overseas quarantine
3) two - three days to fly
However the timing of her entering quarantine at 6 months of term may not coincide exactly with the quarantine schedule dates so in effect the mare may have to enter quarantine a month or two earlier to meet requirements.
(2) The mare must then remain in your country's quarantine facility until she foals down.
(3) Once born, the foal must then be cleared of CEM as well as the mare, which will take an additional 2-3 weeks. If negative for CEM then the foal and mare are free to travel to its final destination. If positive for CEM then both are destroyed.
(4) All up the pregnant mare will spend a minimum of 6-7 months or possibly longer in quarantine providing she foals in a timely fashion. At a cost of $50 a day, $450 foaling fee, tests for CEM plus all other incidentals not included, farrier and vet fees the price could easily skyrocket to well over $11,000, making the whole exercise not only a risky one, but extremely expensive.

Luckily for Australians their bio security laws are extremely relaxed and setting up your own quarantine facility in your back yard is relatively simple with minimum fuss and cost. Unfortunately for New Zealand the opposite is true and the cost is quite high with no guarantees.

Option # 2

A cheaper option does exist, however that could also escalate if one is not careful. Both the mare and stallion can be pre-tested clear of CEM with a series 5 swabs taken weekly over a 3 week period. It then takes up to 1-2 weeks for the results to come back and if both the mare and stallion test clear of CEM they then have 30 days from the last result to mate. This new ruling has just come into affect as of late 2011. It use to be 3 swabs over one week and they had 60 days to mate. If the mares do not take in that new 30 days regulation, then the whole CEM procedure has to be repeated for both the mare and stallion. Both must remain in isolation from all other horses while the CEM testing is being done and until they have mated. Depending on whom you buy from this could be as little as NZ$2000 - 3000 for the overseas vet bill, or it could escalate to triple of that, particularly if doing this in the US. Once the mare is confirmed in foal she can then be exported and proceed with normal quarantine regulations. Not included in these costing are possible stallion stud fees and stabling charges. Also many stud owners may not want to tie up their stallion for a period of 8 weeks+ and the last consideration to take into account is the mare reabsorbing her foal at a later date. I would suggest waiting for a 50 day scan to give yourself more reassurance that she is holding her foal as the disruption of quarantine and travelling could upset her rhythm, causing her to abort.

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How to Safely Purchase a Gypsy Vanner

This will be your first step along the way to owning the horse of your dreams and probably the one fraught with the most apprehension. We don’t want to scare you off buying a gypsy vanner, but it is a buyer beware market out there and we would rather see your first experience a care free happy memory. Remember, not every breeder/dealer has your interest at heart. Some are only interested in the financial side, dropping to unethical levels to sell you a horse.

Common stories exist of extreme height exaggerations, false parentage’s, sellers changing prices or backing out of deals at the last moment and believe it or not the horse you purchase might not even be a purebred. To the unsuspecting first time purchaser it is easy to be fooled. It is not until you horse reaches maturity that you begin to notice that there is very little feather, the mature height is not what you were led to believe or the DNA profile does not match the supposed sire or dam. By then it is too late and if you have imported your horse, although you still love him or her dearly, you have out laid a fortune for a horse that possibly could have been bred in you own country for a fraction of the price.

Luckily it is now not necessary to import from the UK or the US, which is very costly and full of unforeseen risks unless purchasing from a reputable source. There are now enough breeders situated in Australia and New Zealand, from which to purchase good quality stock. Sadly though not all of them are honest either, so an informed choice is always the best one. If you need a bit of help and expertise, Brightwater Gypsy Vanners are always happy to help you find the gypsy vanner of your dream, whether it be locally bought or overseas.

Below is a list of points to tick off or to be aware of when buying a gypsy vanner. Not all are necessary and the list may seem extreme, but every point is there for a reason. If in doubt about anything, please do not hesitate to ring us. As said we are always happy to assist you in purchasing a gypsy vanner regardless of the source.

1) Make a wish list of all the characteristics that you want in your gypsy vanner. For instance, who and what are you buying your gypsy vanner for? Is it for yourself, your children or both. What are your intended purposes: are you going to drive, breed, show or just ride for pleasure? This will have a profound effect at what you look at. As quiet as these horses are having a stallion for riding pleasure is not always suitable at your local rides. Brood mares are always pregnant or have foals at their sides, creating problems as a pleasure horse. It is very hard to find everything that you want in one gypsy vanner, but a wish list will help you decide what points are more important to you and which ones you are willing to give or take a little on.

2) Is colour and height important to you. Gypsy vanners come in all shapes and sizes, from small to tall, light to heavy boned, little to lots of feather and varying colours and temperaments. Your heart may be set on a 15.1 gypsy vanner, however, that may change once you view a fully mature 15.1 heavy set gypsy vanner and find that you are not comfortable with the enormous bulk as they are much bigger in stature than your normal horse. It is not uncommon to find people riding 14 hand gypsy vanners who would never dreamed of riding anything under 15 hands before. Also another point to note is that gypsy vanner do not have pronounced withers. My 14.3 gypsy vanner mare is the same height in the bum end as a 15.2 clydesdale cross that came to us for breeding.

3) If feasible view as many gypsy vanners as possible as there are many different types. If not possible to view yourself in person then ask or send a reliable, knowledgeable “gypsy vanner “ horse person instead. Pictures can be touched up and also very deceptive from the angle that they are taken. If you are looking at purchasing a foal then it is wise to view both parents and possibly ask the breeder if they have other progeny from this mating or at least from one parent. This will give you a general indication of how your foal may mature.

4) Make contact with the prospective seller and pursue the following points either with the seller or an independent lay person:

a) Age and height of horse – A “third” party vet is a must here. Besides checking the horse all over for general soundness the vet can check the teeth for age and measure the height of your horse. On one of our purchases the seller advertised the mature horse at 14.3 and when the vet measured her here she had shrunk to 13.3. Once a gypsy vanner has reached about 3-4 years of age the majority of their growing is done. The horse may grow a few centimetres taller in the next few years but stories of horses growing another 1-2 hands at this age are generally exaggerations.

b) If buying a young colt check to see if testicles have descended and then hope that he will be fertile. Be prepared to pay far more for a quality proven stallion.

c) If purchasing a stallion then ask for references to the progeny or better yet DNA proof. Otherwise how do you now that the progeny they show you belong to the stallion in question. There is no reason now why a breeder should not be able to furnish you with DNA proof of progeny. This has become common practise and if a breeder/dealer can not come up with the goods then I would seriously be weary.

d) Is the seller prepared to hold your horse and maintain his health at no extra charge until the horse is ready to travel. For overseas purchase this is necessary as it could be up to two months before your horse is ready to travel to quarantine. I heard that one horse was so sickly upon arriving at New Market quarantine in the UK that it was not allowed to travel until the next schedule date, costing the importer extra fees. Again dealing with a trusted known source is very reassuring for ones peace of mind.

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e) If you are looking for a particular colour genes, then obtain a copy of the test results and double check with the lab that performed these tests. Sellers can command more money if the horse in question carries a desirable colour gene(s), which may not be visible to the eye. From time to time labs receive falsified colour records for verification, which were good "photo shopped" copies.

f) This applies to DNA records as well as this can also be easily falsified. Obtain the DNA lab results and double check if uncertain. Accepting a seller’s word about a horse’s parentage without the official backup is like playing Russian Roulette, you take your chances. Do not be fooled by clever wording such as “the horse is DNA typed”. This only means that the DNA for that particular horse is on file, it has nothing to do with the horse’s lineage. Be weary of breeders who display wonderful pedigrees of their horses....some haven’t even got a clue where their horses come from and are only going on here say. If a seller is unwilling to present copies of DNA lineage or parentage confirmation, then I would question their motives. We hear it time and time again that we want to keep the DNA of our horses private. The big question here is WHY? What is there to hide if all are being truthful?

g) Be weary of sellers that tell you a horse is from a certain grandsire or grandam but can not give you their sire or dam's name. Logic dictates that if they can not give you the sire or dam’s names they how can they possibly know who the grand parents were.

h) If buying an older horse for pleasure riding, be aware that many of these horses have had none or little training in all the basic areas. Most gypsy’s idea or a riding horse is to sit on it bareback, slap it on the bum and voila, you now have a riding horse. Very different to what you or I would expect. Sometimes a video of the horse performing is a good idea.

i) Having a contract if the purchase is in your own country can be a good idea, but they do not necessarily protect you as you need to take it to court to enforce. That applies even more so to overseas contracts as international court is far too costly to intervene with. It would be cheaper to go and buy another horse. However having a draft contract does help clarifying what each parties responsibilities are and gives you the opportunity to discuss any clauses that you may have queries about or not be suitable to your situation. Details such as when your horse will be ready for pick-up, who pays for the gelding procedure, payment plans, delivery are all necessary things to think about beforehand.

j) Above all do not be in a rush. One would think with all the emphasis being on DNA now that one could safely purchase with confidence, but the dishonest dealers/breeders keep coming up with new ways to deceive people. Take your time and do your homework and like most things it will pay of in the end. Good luck and happy horse hunting. We wish you all the BEST!!

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